Serious attention is focused on workflow automation. Now, with an online community at www.crossroads-world.com, the industry has a forum to share ideas, discuss issues directly with the third party developers and find local partners for custom solutions.
What holds many people back is not knowing how or where to start. Here are some steps to follow to find your path to automation:
Start with what you know. You can take a process that exists and find the parts in that process that can benefit from automation.
Get ideas from examples. The Crossroads-World website has sample flows for many types of processes. It’s a great starting point for ideas.
Think outside prepress. Sure, prepress is where it all starts—files, preflighting, pdf creation—but there is more. The data starts here, but can be reused to automate data entry in your database, send data to your presses and bindery and automate shipping. Think of an automation workflow as something that will work with your employees, free them of repetitive tasks and allow them to produce in an environment where errors are significantly reduced.
Once you have your “big picture” for automating your workflows, you can really see what is available to you on the Crossroads-World community. On this site, you can get information directly from software creators that have solutions for all types of situations covering colour, pdf, imposition, preflight and design. There is access to integrators who can help with workflow details and create custom scripts to connect all the pieces. Scripts fit into your workflow and connect to your internal systems enabling you to get the full benefit of your automation strategy.
Enfocus SWITCH is the platform for creating workflows. The user forum at www.crossroads-world.com has access to all the software developers and integrators connected with the platform and it’s still growing. SWITCH is an open platform giving users the ability to write in any custom plug-ins they need. It is also cross-platform, running on Mac or PC.
There are three levels of entry using SWITCH automation. Starting with LightSWITCH for file manipulation and sorting, it is powerful enough to pull information out of files to decide where they should go. FullSWITCH has everything in LightSWITCH, plus the capability of adding third party plug-ins including scriptable Adobe Creative Suites plug-ins, Quark, imposition software, preflight for files and pdfs, colour and more.
PowerSWITCH helps with the bigger picture allowing you to add custom scripts and plug-ins to everything that was available in FullSWITCH. The power is client access that can capture metadata using JDF, XMP and XML data to talk to every corner of your business.
Products like these will not only increase your capacity and reduce your errors, but it will expose your employees to new ways of doing things, ones that they can be involved in.
Get to work on your “big picture.” It will put you on the path to making your business more competitive and efficient. Learning something new has always been the daily routine in the printing industry anyway.